New Safety Measures for Canadian RailroadsWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Transport Canada on July 25 announced new measures to improve rail safety. They address recommendations that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released following Canadian Pacific’s (CP) Feb. 4, 2019, train derailment near Field, British Columbia. Targeted audits of CP will also be launched to assess the effectiveness of its safety management systems and training regime.
TSB on March 31, 2022, issued its investigation report of the Feb. 4, 2019 derailment, which was caused by an uncontrolled train movement on a 13.5-mile section of track with a steep descending grade (average 2.2%) and several sharp curves. Three CP crewmembers died.
In an aim “to enhance safety of cold-weather train operations through mountainous territory,” TSB made these three recommendations to Transport Canada:
1. Establish “enhanced test standards and requirements for time-based maintenance of brake cylinders on freight cars operating on steep descending grades in cold ambient temperatures. (TSB Recommendation R22-01)”
2. Require “Canadian freight railways to develop and implement a schedule for the installation of automatic parking brakes on freight cars, prioritizing the retrofit of cars used in bulk commodity unit trains in mountain grade territory. (TSB Recommendation R22-02)”
3. Require CP “to demonstrate that its safety management system can effectively identify hazards arising from operations using all available information, including employee hazard reports and data trends; assess the associated risks; and implement mitigation measures and validate that they are effective. (TSB Recommendation R22-03)”
Transport Canada on July 25 said that a new Ministerial Order has taken effect, requiring railway companies to propose revisions to rules for the Minister’s approval. The revisions, it explained, “will enhance regular pre-departure inspections and periodic maintenance of air brakes on trains and address the elevated risks of operating trains in cold temperatures.” In addition, the Order requires rail companies to develop a winter operating plan for their equipment, “specifying actions to be taken when temperatures are very cold, including implementing speed restrictions and performing enhanced inspections.” This will address TSB Recommendation R22-01.
Transport Canada also reported that, beginning in September 2022, it will launch a working group with railway companies “to consider the design and safety parameters of automatic parking brakes,” and “conduct testing of automatic braking technology under real-world operating conditions to verify safety and performance.” This is in alignment TSB Recommendation R22-02.
Lastly, in agreement with TSB Recommendation R22-03, Transport Canada said the government of Canada “will launch targeted audits of Canadian Pacific Railway by August 2022, to assess the effectiveness of their safety management systems and training regime.” In parallel, Transport Canada will conduct oversight of CP’s occupational health and safety committees so it can “monitor whether the company is effectively identifying and addressing hazards.”